Difference Between Indoor And Outdoor Basketball – Clearly Explained!

Last Updated on September 18, 2021 by

Whether you’re a basketball fanatic or just a recreational player, it is important to know the differences between indoor and outdoor basketball. These two types of basketballs have distinct features even if they look the same at a distance. Besides, these distinct features influence the overall performance and the lifespan of the balls. 

We’ve heard and seen people debate about the two types of basketballs. Some ask whether outdoor basketball can be used for indoor games and vice versa. It is quite important to play with the right basketball for excellent overall performance and precise shots. That’s why we’ve analyzed the main differences below. Let’s check it out! 

Indoor VS Outdoor Basketball – Differences 

Indoor VS Outdoor Basketball Differences


Indoor basketballs are designed and built to excel on indoor courts, delivering an exceptional playing experience. The only type of ball you’ll see on indoor courts during practice or games between the high school, professional, and collegiate teams are indoor balls. That’s because they perform much better than outdoor balls on indoor courts. 

High-quality indoor balls don’t easily lose grip thanks to the 35,000 pebbles over the entire ball surface which is equivalent to 122 pebbles per square inch. With this type of pebble structure, indoor balls offer exceptional stickiness and a superior grip. Outdoor basketballs, on the other hand, are designed and built with fewer per square inch and larger pebbles, which decrease its grip and enhances a rougher feel. 

Cover Material Used

The material used for the construction is one of the most significant differences between outdoor and indoor basketballs. In most cases, outdoor basketballs are either made of composite or rubber leather while full-grain leather materials are used for indoor basketballs.

Indoor basketballs are often smoother and feel softer to the touch than its counterpart. If you’ve ever played with the two types of basketballs, you’ll notice the soft feel of the indoor ball because it is made from full-grain leather. This high-quality composite material is responsible for the softer feel and great grip. Composite leather material incorporates both plastic and leather fragments. 

It is quite durable, cheaper, and feels synonymous with the traditional leather material. There are hybrid basketballs that are made from composite leather. These hybrid balls are both suitable for indoor and outdoor games. They are robust and durable enough to handle the harshness and elements of outdoor games and still perform exceptionally on indoor courts. 

On the other hand, outdoor basketballs are designed and built to be more durable with less grip and feel. Most of the time, it is difficult to find professional players playing with an outdoor ball. Outdoor balls are meant to be used by amateurs and recreational players. That’s why these balls are built to withstand elements outside. 

You don’t wanna play an indoor ball on an outdoor basketball court, because it was made from less durable materials when compared to outdoor balls. Playing indoor basketball on asphalt or concrete surfaces will damage or soften the outer layer. That’s not all. Elements like dust and rain on outdoor basketball courts are too harsh for indoor balls and will cause them to deteriorate more quickly, resulting in peeling and reduced performance. 


If you’re a professional player in the game of basketball, you should know that it isn’t right to play with an outdoor ball on an indoor court. Since they feel a little bit hard and bouncy especially on wooden surfaces like the indoor courts, you might fight it hard to control, grip, and shoot. This will definitely have negative impacts on your games. 

Having said that, some experienced players still play with a slightly deflated outdoor ball on outstanding performance indoor courts. However, indoor basketballs are less flexible and would not perform excellently on outdoor courts.  Don’t forget that these balls are not even exceptionally durable and come with a fragile leather surface that will peel off when used on hard outdoor courts. 


In terms of durability, the two types of basketballs are quite different. You can play with an outdoor ball on an indoor basketball court even though the overall performance in terms of ball control and shots quality might be under-par. 

It can withstand any indoor surface without any hassle. Meanwhile, the leather of indoor balls will peel or crack when played on outdoor courts with hard and rough surfaces. Nonetheless, an indoor basketball should last you some years if you keep playing on indoor courts only. 


The price range is another significant difference between these two ball types. Outdoor balls are less expensive and you’ll certainly get a good ball for just $25. You don’t necessarily have to break the bank to get a high-quality outdoor ball.

Good indoor balls, on the other hand, are quite expensive. Some high-quality indoor balls cost above $110. It all depends on the quality of the ball that you want and your budget, you can still get a low to medium quality indoor ball at $30. 


We’ve prepared some frequently asked questions and answers for a better understanding of the differences between the two ball types. 

Can You Play Indoor Basketball On Outdoor Courts? 

Just like we said earlier, the materials used for the construction of indoor basketballs are not as durable and rigid as the ones used for outdoor balls. They will peel, wear, and tear quickly when used for outdoor games. Indoor balls are only suited for indoor basketball courts. 

What Are The Disparities Between Outdoor And Indoor Games? 

Indoor games help players developmental and intellectual abilities while outdoor games help with physicality. Most of the time, indoor games require only small spaces while outdoor games need big surfaces. Indoor basketball games are mostly played by professionals and serious players while outdoor games are enjoyed by amateurs and recreational players. 

What Happens When You Leave A Basketball Outside? 

The quality of your ball and its overall grip will be diminished when left outside in the rain or any other wetness. More so, the shape of the ball can be tampered with or warped by certain temperatures. Lastly, the color of the ball might fade away when exposed to direct sunlight for too long. 

How Long Do Indoor/Outdoor Basketballs Last? 

The longevity of a basketball depends on how you maintain it, the build quality, and the number of times you’ve played with it. A high-quality ball made from rubber will last about three to six months before losing its grip if you play it every day for one to three hours. 

Final Thoughts 

Choosing between the two basketball types depends on your game needs. You don’t have to buy an indoor ball if you’re not playing to play on indoor basketball courts as a professional. Indoor balls are mostly suited for professional players. As a recreational player, an outdoor ball is the best option. It will perform well on harsh and rough surfaces. However, if you’re planning to play on both surfaces, the outdoor ball might be the most preferable option. 

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